VU wins ARC Linkage Grants

Victoria University has been awarded three ARC Linkage Grants totalling $705,260.

The first research project, 'Innovative zero energy membrane technologies to reduce water consumption in the dairy industry' has funding of $78,420 over four years.

The researchers are: Associate Professor Mikel Duke (VU); Dr Todar Vasiljevic (VU); Dr Petere Sanciolo (VU); and Dr E Ponnampalam (Dairy Innovation Australia). The project will be administered by VU in partnership with Dairy Innovation Australia.

The Australian dairy industry not only plays a critical role in our way of life, but processed dairy products contribute to 12 per cent or $3.27 billion to Australia's export revenue. It has learnt to adapt to changing market demands through innovative membrane technologies, but now energy and water are key issues. This project aims to reduce water consumption in dairy processing by treating waste streams using novel membrane processes including membrane distillation. The energy is supplied from low-grade waste heat, offsetting the need to supply more power to the plant. Reducing the need for water in a zero-energy way will ensure the thriving dairy industry remains cost competitive and an integral part of Australia's culture and economy.

The second research project, 'The effect of dietary fish peptides on biomarkers of human health - the influence of processing conditions and the environment', has funding of $156,840 over four years.

The researchers are: Dr Todar Vasiljevic (VU); Dr Osaana Donkor (VU); Dr Michael Mathai (VU); Dr I A Knuckey; and Mr W A Street (Geelong Food Co-products Cluster). The project will be administered by VU in partnership with the Geelong Food Co-products Cluster.

This project links together two diverse but important areas of national importance: declining fisheries and human health. Australia is a small producer and exporter of fish but has access to significant fisheries. The Geelong Food Co-product Cluster comprises a number of fish companies facing serious problems associated with declining catches, compounded by the current financial crisis. Increasing use of by-catch species and developing novel processing technology for controlled release of bioactive peptides that may reduce appetite and the tendency for overweight and obesity in consumers could provide the Australian seafood industry with a world-competitive innovative technology leading to improvements in human health.

The third research project, 'Rural adjustment or structural transformation? Discovering the destinations of exiting farm families', has funding of $470,000 over six years.

The researchers are: Dr Sally Weller (VU); Associate Professor W N Pritchard (University of Sydney); Professor M Alston (Monash University); and Professor M J Webber (University of Melbourne). The project will be administered by VU in partnership with the Victorian Government, Department of Treasury and Finance.

The findings of this research will assist local, state and federal governments to intervene effectively in processes of regional and rural structural adjustment. It will generate economic benefits by recommending policies that facilitate growth and promote sustainable rural businesses while at the same time sheltering rural communities and individual households from adverse outcomes. It will contribute social benefits by identifying policies to improve the outcomes of rural adjustment for families and individuals. The new knowledge it provides will inform the politics of regional change and remove some of the uncertainties that currently impede the implementation of rural adjustment policies.

The Linkage Projects scheme encourages collaborative research and development between higher education organisations and other organisations, including within industry.

VU's Dr Gayle Morris, Director Office for Research said that she was delighted by the success of VU's researchers success in Round 2 of the  ARC Linkage Project Funding for 2009.

"VU submitted six applications and three were successful," she said. "At a 50 per cent success rate, we are above the 45.6 per cent national success rate."

Gayle congratulated all the research teams and support staff involved in the submissions and said: "We look forward to working with all the applicants to build on this success".

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